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Site gears for Glenn's relaunch

NASA is preparing another kind of record--traffic on its shuttle launch Web site.

As the first astronaut to orbit Earth, John Glenn, prepares to launch again, NASA is gearing up to deal with another kind of record--traffic on its shuttle launch Web site.

The Ohio senator is scheduled for blast-off today on the Space Shuttle Discovery, departing at 11 a.m. PT from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. A site tracking the much ballyhooed blast-off will offer Net surfers a glimpse into the launch and journey. It is expecting to get as many as 120 million hits per day.

The site will be powered by a partnership between host PSINet, Hewlett-Packard, F5 Lab's, and Network Appliance. The ISP is backed by eight HP 9000 enterprise servers, F5 Lab's traffic management, and Network Appliance's caching technology.

Highlighting the Internet's role in making the mission accessible, Glenn's flight will be viewable in a Webcast by TV on The Web, an Internet video streaming firm. The network can handle a maximum of 3,000 simultaneous viewers of the streamed media launch.

Glenn also will be packing a Kodak digital camera on his journey, which will enable the veteran astronaut to send images home to Earth. The images will be made available for public viewing on NASA's and Kodak's Web sites.

Several other Web sites are covering the launch and aspects of it. Search portals such as Yahoo, for example, have added special interest Web sites with several links to coverage of the flight.